Thursday, April 26, 2007

Engineering Education for Sustainable Development

Michael SmithThis talk at the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science, in Canberra, next week is recommended. Perhaps the web could be used for education on sustainable development, particularly for Green ICT:

Engineering Education for Sustainable Development - New Challenges, Initiatives, and Opportunities

Michael Smith (Departmental Visitor ANU CRES and Research Director of the sustainability think tank - The Natural Edge Project (TNEP))

DATE: 2007-05-03
TIME: 15:00:00 - 16:00:00
LOCATION: Ian Ross Seminar Room


2005 -2015 is the UN Decade of Education in Sustainable Development. This presentation argues that it is time we re-examined whether or not we can improve engineering education in sustainable development. It is widely acknowledged that engineers have a key role to play in sustainable development. The challenge to achieve ecological sustainability fast enough and on a scale large enough globally is significant.

This lecture argues that to achieve sustainability globally, OECD nations, like Australia, will need to aim to reduce environmental pressures by at least 75% by 2050. Far from being radical, such targets are in line with IPCC and other UN body?s recommendations. These sorts of targets are also being recommended by academics. The ANU Factor of 10 Symposium in 2001, which argued that environmental pressures needed to be reduced by a factor of 10 (or 90%) by 2050, is an example of this. Given these facts, this presentation asks how can engineering university courses (and ongoing professional development training) better equip engineers with the very latest to achieve Factor 4-10 or better now?

Achieving a Factor of 4 (75%) or better marks a significant new challenge for this generation of engineers. Michael Smith, The Natural Edge Project and partners are currently in the process of developing three significant engineering education programs addressing this issue funded by UNESCO and Engineers Australia, The Department of Environment and Water Resources and CSIRO's Energy Transformed Flagship respectively.

Drawing on these three training packages for engineers, this lecture will show how engineers and society already are achieving such large (Factor 4 plus) reductions in environmental pressures through re-thinking the engineering design of whole systems. The talk will overview what is novel about these new engineering educational packages, what they provide engineers and educators, which Universities are already using this work, and how it will add value to ANU?s existing engineering courses. In addition the presentation will overview other significant initiatives around the world - like the Netherlands Sustainable Technology Development program; a national program seeking to help the Netherlands achieve Factor 10-20 by 2050.

BIO: Michael Smith has worked on a range of sustainability focused initiatives for sometime. Michael and the team from The Natural Edge Project have developed a range of projects focused on education and training for sustainable development, working with Universities, Professional Bodies, Industry Groups, Government Agencies, Companies, Schools and touring international keynote speakers.

In 2005, TNEP was announced the winner of the Banksia Award for Environmental Leadership, Education and Training for their publication The Natural Advantage of Nations, and the training program, Engineering Sustainable Solutions Program. Already 20,000 individuals a month are using the online educational resources on The Natural Edge Project's web site.

In addition, Michael represents TNEP on the editorial board for CSIRO ECOS:Towards A Sustainable Future magazine, Engineers Australia?s Sustainability Taskforce Committee and the Australian Council of Building Design Professionals. He has also served as PARSA rep on the ANU Green committee and is a recipient of the ANU Green Individual Award.

Michael H. Smith has joined the Department of Engineering for the next 9 months. In 2006, Michael was accepted as a Departmental Visitor to ANU?s Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies to develop an engineering sustainable energy solutions educational package, under funding from the CSIRO Energy Transformed Flagship project grants in collaboration with Griffith University, The Natural Edge Project and Engineers Australia. The project will research and deliver an effective toolkit for capacity-building engineers and other key technical professions, in the skill of finding and implementing cost-effective low-carbon energy approaches and energy efficiency options.

The capacity-building training program will empower engineers to address these issues through the course of their professional life. The project will deliver peer-reviewed capacity-building modules for use by both practicing and undergraduate engineers (ie in the workplace and through universities and vocational institutions). Given the project's focus, the ANU Department of Engineering have agreed for him to undertake this program based as part of the ANU Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems for the duration of this work.

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